Canada approves Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine
Canada to fast-track approvals for tweaks to COVID-19 vaccines for variants
05 March, 2021, 23:06
The company's drug was the first to receive emergency use approval in Canada late previous year.
One of the shots is 85 percent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, according to a massive study that spanned three continents.
Biden administration officials have been concerned the J&J vaccine would be perceived to be lower quality than the other vaccines, and United States health officials have stressed repeatedly that people should take whichever vaccine is available if they're eligible.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that nearly 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups".
On Tuesday, the American clergy said that "if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson's".
Another one million doses will arrive in both April and May.
"Pfizer will be delivering an additional 1.5 million doses to Canada this March, moving deliveries ahead of schedule", Trudeau said.
A national panel of vaccine experts in Canada recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to four months to quickly inoculate more people amid a shortage of doses in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has an agreement with Johnson & Johnson for 10 million doses between now and September.
The approval of a fourth COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada will only accelerate what was already set to be a massive ramp-up in vaccinations over the coming months, says Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
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With Oxford-AstraZeneca added to Canada's vaccine arsenal, the country is on track to receive a total of 6.5 million vaccine doses by the end of this month - half a million more than originally expected.
The vaccine can be stored and transported at refrigerated temperatures for at least three months, facilitating distribution across the country, Health Canada noted in a statement Friday morning.
"We should have good news on that in the next few days", Dr. Marc Berthiaume, the director of the bureau of medical sciences at Health Canada, told reporters at a press conference about the vaccine rollout on Thursday.
Retired Gen. Rick Hillier says the single-dose vaccine is ideal for reaching people who are harder to book for a second appointment.
Deliveries to Canada have been slow - lagging many other developed nations - even though it has ordered more doses per capita than any other country. "It is easy to store and ship", said Hillier.
Asked whether the news of approvals and more doses arriving earlier advances the federal government's longstanding end-of-September timeline to vaccinate all Canadians who wish to be vaccinated, the prime minister said Canada has "reasons to be optimistic".
From a logistical standpoint, Toronto-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the benefits are clear.
"It requires just conventional refrigeration and it's a one-and-done shot", Bogoch said. "That's a big deal".
The government of Ontario, Canada's most populous province, said on Friday it would extend the maximum period between first and second doses to four months, speeding up access to a first shot.
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